Hundreds of people came together Friday night (March 29) in Clarksville to honor an officer who died in the line of duty earlier this week. Larry Johnson, the Director of the Fifth Judicial Task Force died in the line of duty Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, he was making this community safer," Clarksville Police Chief Greg Donaldson said. "That's the best thing I can say about him. My community is safer today because of Larry Johnson. You want to talk about a hero? He's a hero. He gave his life for what he believes in."
Johnson's wife, Theresa stood speechless as people poured in to the Fine Arts Center at Clarksville High School.
"I am overwhelmed," Theresa Johnson said. "You know, you know you have friends and you know there's going to be people here but I am just blown away. Words cannot explain how much this means to me right now."
On March 26, Johnson conducted a home visit to check in on a parolee. The man ran off, and Johnson collapsed while chasing him, according to the Clarksville Police Department. Police said they do not believe the suspect did anything to cause Johnson’s death, other than flee.
"You always think that at the end of the day you're going to go home to your family," Donaldson said, as he fought back tears. "This time he didn't make it back home. And we're heartbroken over that. But I know in my heart that he died doing what he wanted to be doing and that was protecting this community."
Because of his sacrifice for this country, the United States Honor Flag will rest next to him. The United States Honor Flag is the same flag that flew over Ground Zero after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The prestigious flag travels the world, paying tribute to those who died while protecting our country and our safety. Johnson was the director of the Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force.
"This flag is world class reverence," explained Chris Heisler, the President and Founder of the United States Honor Flag. "It's a national treasure coming to honor a local hero."
The flag traveled all the way from Texas Friday to be presented at Johnson's visitation in Clarksville.
"I know what that flag means," Donaldson said. "You know we want to talk about freedom. Larry Johnson gave his life for that freedom. And that flag is about that freedom. So there's no better place that it could be right now than resting next to him. And him resting next to it."
The flag will stay at Johnson's side until after his funeral Saturday.
"I loved him dearly and I'm going to miss him," Donaldson said.
"We all will," Theresa Johnson added.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at Clarksville High School Fine Arts building in Clarksville. The burial will follow at Patterson Springs Cemetery in Oark.
The Police Benevolent Foundation, Inc. and the Arkansas Division of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association has set up a memorial fund for Johnson’s family. Click here to find out how you can help.